The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) praised yesterday's announcement by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that it would launch a national Registered Traveler program by June 20, 2006. The announcement was made by TSA Assistant Secretary, the Honorable Kip Hawley, during a hearing held by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity.

NBTA also lauded the Subcommittee for its work to ensure TSA meet the mandate to develop and implement Registered Traveler. This is the third hearing the Subcommittee has held on Registered Traveler in five months. NBTA Executive Director and COO Bill Connors, CTC, was privileged to testify at the first of those hearings on June 9, 2005.

"Business travelers, travel managers and their companies will be pleased to learn that after more than three years of promoting the importance of a Registered Traveler program, a timeline is finally set for putting the program in place," said Connors. "Registered Traveler will increase the level of air travel security by shrinking the proverbial haystack for airport screeners, and it will speed the screening process at airports, making travel more pleasant and more productive for business travelers."

The Registered Traveler program, overseen by TSA, will provide expedited air travel security screening to travelers who volunteer for government background checks. During today's hearing, entitled "The Future of Registered Traveler," TSA shared basic information gathered during recently-completed tests of the program and laid out its plan for developing a permanent Registered Traveler program by June 2006.

The program will involve the private sector in managing the issuance of cards for Registered Traveler participants. TSA's plan calls for a period of public comment on how it will partner with the private sector. Today's hearing included significant debate about the best business model for Registered Traveler.

Connors said, "Based on our research and discussions with business travelers, their travel managers and their companies, NBTA advocates for a program that is fully voluntary, respects the privacy of those who participate, provides expedited screening, works at all participating airports, and is available on a large scale and at a fair price. As long as those needs are met, the business travel community looks forward to the launch of a national Registered Traveler program."

NBTA has lead the corporate travel industry call for a Registered Traveler program since the concept was first introduced more than three years ago.